Saturday, March 7, 2015

Chana Masala

Over Christmas vacation, my family, Mark and I went to the Cheesecake Factory.  Mark and I got to the mall first, and knowing there was an hour wait, we grabbed  quick snack at the food court to tide us over until dinner.  I got a samosa, and Mark ordered chana masala.  Again, he's secretly a vegetarian but he won't admit it.  Chana masala is a chickpea curry.  It's spicy, wildly flavorful, gluten-free, vegetarian, and awesome.  Mark never asks for anything specific for dinner (that drives me nuts), but after eating his chana masala, he said, "make this for dinner at home sometime."  Before we had walked out of the food court, I had pinned two recipes and added the ingredients mentally to my grocery list.

I ended up not getting a chance to try it out until February vacation, and I chose a different recipe than the ones I pinned due to some ingredients I wasn't able to find (mango powder? Cumin seeds?).  This recipe was easy, perfect, and so insanely delicious that I cannot recommend it enough.  Do you need an idea for Meatless Monday?  Do you want to serve a hearty, filling, healthy chickpea curry over some white rice and have your house smell like Asia?  Well, I do.

And let's talk about the spices.  Besides garlic, fresh cilantro and lemon juice, there is cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, and garam masala.  The recipe calls for cayenne pepper, which I didn't have, so I threw in some crushed red pepper (Mark likes spice).  Can you imagine the explosion of flavors in this dish!?  All those flavors meld together into the most incredible mixture.

In fact, Mark loved this so much that, besides the one bowl I ate, he devoured the whole entire pot.  Like, no leftovers.  This recipe serves 4, so he ate 3 people's servings all by himself.  I think it's safe to say that he liked it!  This recipe will be making an appearance again.  Maybe I'd better double it next time.

One last note: the original website also offers a recipe for homemade garlic naan.  I would so love to try making this Indian flatbread, but I didn't have time this night to make anything with yeast.  Next time though?  Definitely.  I can only imagine how great the chana masala would be scooped onto naan... mmmm.


chana masala
from Mustard and Sage


1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)


1) Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally.

2) Reduce heat to low.  Add garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, cayenne, and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds.  Add 1/4 cup water, stir, and cook until water has completely evaporated.

3) Add tomatoes and their juice.  Raise heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil.  Adjust heat to maintain a simmer, and add cilantro leaves.  Stirring occasionally, cook until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.

4) Add chickpeas, stir, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons water and cook for 5 minutes.  Add another 2 tablespoons water and cook until absorbed.  This process of adding and cooking off water helps concentrate the sauce's flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender.  taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Garnish with cilantro leaves.  Serve with rice and naan.

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